Season Of Destiny: Steel city rivals must be in promotion mix

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NEXT season will be one of the most important campaigns in the recent history of Steel City football, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday have been warned, writes James Shield.

With South Yorkshire’s footballing superpowers both languishing in League One, Bramall Lane legend Brian Deane told The Star: “The sooner they get back up the better. And then, hopefully, they can kick on from there.

“Sheffield is a proud place. It’s a great place.

“I don’t think anyone would disagree that it should really be staging top-flight games. The sooner is does the better it is for all concerned.”

United, who two months ago were relegated from the Championship, host the first derby of the season on October 15 before the return at Hillsborough on February 25.

Wednesday slipped into the third tier in 2010 and finished 15th last season.

United and the Owls begin their bids for promotion against Oldham and Rochdale respectively.

Wednesday hero David Hirst said: “To my mind this is a Manchester United versus Manchester City, Liverpool versus Everton type game. I know, I played in it.”

Doncaster Rovers and Barnsley – South Yorkshire’s remaining Championship representatives - kick off against Brighton and Nottingham Forest.

Chesterfield, still celebrating promotion from League Two, have been paired with Tranmere on the opening day while Rotherham open with a tough fixture against Chris Wilder’s Oxford.

Meanwhile, the final day of the League One and Two seasons clashes with the FA Cup Final.

The Championship draws to a close a week earlier - April 28 - to help players who might be involved in Euro 2012.

Full fixtures: For an eight-page pull out of all our local teams’ fixtures for the 2011-12 season, see The Star on Saturday, June 18, 2011.